Sunday, April 29, 2018

Paying it forward

Here are a couple of heartwarming stories about friends giving me free stuff.

I was 14 years old and had been building models for a few years, not really knowing what I was doing. Somehow I learned about IPMS Ocala (Florida), which met in a neighboring town. I didn’t have a driver’s license, so my mother generously drove me to the meetings and would shop while I made new friends and learned about the finer aspects of scale modeling. A few of the club members were particularly helpful and took me under their wings, and I was eventually invited to their homes to see their workshops, stashes, and book collections.

I remember visiting the home of Alan Royer, who was an extremely talented truck modeler. I spent a couple of hours with him as he showed me the models he was working on, explained how he converted them, and introduced me to the tools and material he used to build them. I’d never seen sheet plastic or tubing. Alan used liquid glue, not the Testors goo I had at home. The experience was, as they say, like drinking from a fire hose. There was so much I didn’t know about this hobby.

What I most remember about my visit with Alan was his generosity. He shared with me everything he knew, and when I left, he gave me a selection of sheet plastic and tubing that I could use for my own modeling. That was incredibly kind of him, and it set an example for how I should encourage other modelers that I would meet in the future.

Fast-forward thirty’ish years. Last month a friend emailed me and told me that he was downsizing his collection and included a few photos of the models he wanted to get rid of. The subject line said it all, “Free to a good home.” And here’s the thing. He wasn’t offering me a bunch of moldy old Revell and Lindberg kits from the 1960s. These were primo, new-tool kits that would easily sell for $30 or more on eBay.

I’ve had enough conversations with this friend over the last couple of years to know his downsizing is an exercise to de-clutter his life; simply getting the models out of his home is his priority. Still, it was incredibly generous of him to outright give me the models rather than sell them. And when I went to his office to pick up the three models I asked for (I didn’t want to be selfish and ask for everything), he’d added a few more that he knew I’d be interested in.

I reflect on these two moments because they’re meaningful. There’s no better way to “pay it forward” than to be generous with your time and the things that you value. It could be a small item such as a bottle of paint or a photoetch set, or it could be a model — or two or five or twenty-five.

I’ve written about the signs that your stash is out of control and about what might happen to your stash when you die. If you find yourself downsizing your collection, consider giving away some of your models to friends or the younger modelers you know. Take a few to the next contest and give them to one of the youngsters in attendance. Paying it forward, giving away something of value, may make an impression on someone who will be building models 30 years from now.

And to my friend Adrian, thank you!